Greinacher's Career Night Paces Zags To Win Over LMU
SPOKANE, Wash. - Gonzaga University women's basketball sophomore Sunny Greinacher exploded for a career-high 21 points to pace the Bulldogs to a 79-57 victory over visiting Loyola Marymount University Thursday evening at the McCarthey Athletic Center.
Greinacher - who scored 17 of her 21 points in the second half - sank 10-of-13 from the field and was 1-of-2 from the charity stripe to best her career-high by four points. The forward from Essen, Germany, who leads the team in shooting percentage at 54.5 percent, also grabbed seven rebounds, made three steals and dished out one assist.
Head coach Kelly Graves was excited about the 6-4 forward's aggressive play and progression as a threat inside.
"If you have been around our program and the posts we have had, you know going inside is our bread and butter," explained Graves. "Sunny can be the next one in that long line. She is a double threat; with her mid-range jumpers and inside play. She did a great job tonight."
Greinacher was joined in double-figures by junior Jazmine Redmon and senior Taelor Karr. Redmon tallied 12 points, including going 2-of-2 from beyond the 3-point arc, while Karr added 10 points, along with six assists and three steals.
Hazel Ramirez had 14 points for the Lions (8-13, 2-6 WCC) who trailed by as many as 26 points and dropped their 10th straight game in the series with the Bulldogs (17-5, 7-1 WCC).
Gonzaga's defense was once again spot on as it forced Loyola Marymount to turn the ball over 23 times and was credited with 17 steals; two off matching its season-high. The Bulldogs didn't let the Lion miscues go to waste, scoring 33 points off the turnovers.
The Bulldogs also clamped down on LMU's star Alex Cowling, who came into the game averaging 15.9 points per contest and is 120 points away from breaking the WCC scoring record. Cowling finished with 12 points, five of which came from the charity stripe. She made 3-of-9 from the field and didn't crack double-figures until there was 4:28 left in the contest.
"I thought we were really good on the defensive end tonight," stated Graves. "I thought we did a good job on Alex Cowling who is soon to be the all-time leading scoring in conference history. She worked for everything she had tonight."
It was a tight 3-point game until a 21-4 run catapulted Gonzaga to a 20-point edge at 34-14 with 5:15 to play in the first half. The Bulldogs hit four 3-pointers during the run, including two by senior Meghan Winters.
Loyola Marymount did cut the lead to 12 with 1:24 left before intermission and had a chance to get within single-digits but a missed 3-pointer by Ramirez turned into a 3-pointer by Karr which gave GU its 43-28 halftime lead.
Greinacher then took over in the second half. She scored the first four points of the final 20 minutes and eight of the Bulldogs nine points in their opening 9-2 run.
It was even Greinacher that gave the Zags their largest lead of the game. She hit a jumper at the 9:34 mark to put the score at 63-37. That jumper also broke her previous career-high of 17 points as she hit 18 with the bucket.
Greinacher is just the third Gonzaga player to break the 20-point plateau this season; joining Karr and junior Haiden Palmer.
The Bulldogs next game is Saturday, Feb 2 when they host Pepperdine University. The game, which is sold out, is set for 2 p.m.
NOTES and QUOTES
Notes: Gonzaga, which leads the WCC in 3-point percentage, shot 50 percent (8-for-16) from behind the arc ... the Bulldogs held the Lions 10 points below their season average ... LMU is now 0-9 on the road ... Loyola senior Alex Cowling finished with just 12 points on 3-of-9 shooting. She now has 2,057 in her career, the third-most in WCC history. She still trails Gonzaga greats Heather Bowman (2,165) and Courtney Vandersloot (2,073) ... GU senior Meghan Winters tied a season high with eight points ... the Zags have won the last 10 games in this series.
Gonzaga coach Kelly Graves
On his team's improvement from the beginning of the season ... "We have really progressed well. Where we are at, all the questions I had early in the year were legitimate. I think we are starting to answer them and get better. I love our intensity defensively; this is one of the best defensive teams I have coached. I like where we are going as we continue to get better on the offensive end."
Gonzaga sophomore Sunny Greinacher
On her second-half outburst ... "I was just thinking when we went into the locker room for break that I still have 20 minutes to do everything I can. The first half wasn't that great - the last two games haven't been that great - so it was just important for me to get out there and be strong again and make some baskets."
On if she felt pressure to step up when fellow post Shelby Cheslek got in early foul trouble ... "I didn't even notice that to be honest. I'm really bad at that kind of stuff - I don't even notice when I have foul trouble."
Gonzaga junior Jazmine Redmon
On defending LMU leading scorer Alex Cowling ... "Coach just said to limit her touches and don't let her get the ball because she can't score without the ball."
On the continued improvement of Sunny Greinacher ... "She doesn't know how good she is. Sometimes in practice she passes shots up and we always tell her, 'Sunny, if you miss 15 shots we don't care. If you make the next one, that's all we care about.' "
Gonzaga junior Stephanie Golden
On her impressions of the Zags' performance against LMU ... "It was amazing to see us just pressure everything. We were really successful on tips, and all the loose balls seemed to be ours. I was really happy to see that."
On the importance of not overlooking last-place Pepperdine on Saturday ... "In the WCC, you really cannot overlook anyone. That is going to be really important for us on Saturday, especially with Pepperdine because you never know."